Steven Hewa stands from his catcher’s squat. His eyes start at second base then dart across to first. He tosses his glove and helmet and meets his teammates on the mound to celebrate.
With the College of New Jersey (TCNJ) threatening in the ninth, Andrew Cartier forces a ground ball double-play to end the game and give Rowan the top spot in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
With just six games remaining before the NJAC Tournament – five of which being conference games — Rowan now owns the tie-breaker against the Lions for first place.
While conference standings are important, it’s the tournament winner that punches its ticket to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament. But head coach Mike Dickson has been preaching a message of consistency to his team.
“We have to continue to play as we’ve been playing,” Dickson said. “You have to play one game at a time…that’s really the message clearly throughout our entire team.”
Senior and NJAC Athlete of the Week Matt Woods says they have good matchups coming up with TCNJ and Ramapo which will impact the tournament but is following his coach’s lead.
“It’s just another day at the ballpark,” Woods said. “I don’t like to think of teams as being better than others or anything like that. I just like to show up to the field and play your own game and that alone should take care of itself.”
This is Woods’ first season with the Profs after transferring from Division I Saint John’s University and he’s clearly made an impact. His fellow teammates have talked about how much he and the other transfers have led to the success of this team and his production speaks for itself.
Last week he batted .565 and slugged 1.174 with three home runs, five doubles, nine RBIs, five doubles, three home runs and 11 runs. He even picked up a win on the mound against Moravian.
“I’m trying to help the team out any aspect I can,” Woods said. “One thing I’ve learned now playing college baseball for four years is you have to have some fun.”
He talked about how the team’s energy has made the environment more fun and made everyone play more loosely. He came out this season trying to do too much and make too big of an impact but once he started having fun the production started.
“We have a very good pitching staff, a very good lineup,” Woods said. “We’re all confident in each other…as long as you do your own game and stick to your plan things will go your way.”
Despite being an NJAC rookie, he has already noticed a different atmosphere in conference games from the few that he has played so far this season.
Dickson says while TCNJ is probably their best matchup in the conference on paper they cannot sleep on their other rivals.
“The NJAC has been good for years,” Dickson said. “Any given day anyone can beat you so you have to make sure you play good throughout.”
As the regular season comes to its end, Dickson is looking for his seniors to play well. He says if they play well and relaxed then everyone will fall in line.
All year long he’s been preaching three keys to winning and echoed them for the end of the season.
Pitching, defense and timely hitting. He is, however, looking to his pitchers to step up and says if they pitch well, they’ll be in every game.
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